The Great Star Trek Rewatch: Requiem for Methuselah

When the Enterprise crew get infected with deadly Rigellian Fever, it’s a race against time to gather curative ryetalyn from a barren planet. But the seemingly lifeless planet is actually home to Flint, a secretive human who is at first gruff and inhospitable, before suddenly changing his tune and offering Kirk, Spock and McCoy a warm welcome. But just who and what is Flint, and what are his ulterior motives?

After a spate of rather dull episodes, it’s nice to stumble upon one I actually remembered very well, and a tragic love story at that. Flint, a lonely immortal who has withdrawn himself from human society, is so desperate for a partner that will not age and die that he has built himself the ideal android woman – perfect in all respects except for the fact that she cannot feel. Enter galactic lothario James Kirk – who better to introduce a woman to that tingling feeling in the loins than the Enterprise captain? Of course, having fallen for Kirk, android Rayna is now torn between her young, virile lover, and her creator and lifelong companion. It might be a bit much to swallow that Kirk is so in love with this particular woman when he’s had girl after girl over the course of this five-year mission, but other than that, it’s a pretty solid love story.

Requiem for TOS

  • Flint is a human who was born on Earth, but due to a genetic fluke, he has incredible regenerative powers and has lived for thousands of years. Identities he has assumed over the years include Methuselah, Lazarus, da Vinci and Brahms.
  • Despite having been born in the Middle East, Flint is quite clearly white. Perhaps he has had some surgical alterations made over the years – after all, he has had to change his identity often.
  • Flint has the ability to shrink the Enterprise down to the size of a foot-long model, a feat which simultaneously places the crew in stasis. It is unclear as to how the science of this would even work. Since the Enterprise sits neatly on his table after this feat is achieved, it does not appear to have retained its original mass.
  • One suspects that better quarantine controls might have helped the Enterprise contain the Rigellian fever outbreak. Indeed, if this disease is so deadly, why don’t all starships carry stocks of unrefined ryetalyn, ready to be made into the cure when needed. Also, ryetalyn is just one mispronunciation away from “ritalin”. And that’s an episode we all want to see.
  • McCoy uses the last minutes of the episode to berate Spock for not being able to feel love, and understand the intensity of that particular emotion. Not only is this quite cruel, it’s untrue – the tragedy of Spock is not that he cannot feel love, but that he has been trained to bury those emotions, and never express them.
  • Spock is able to use his telepathic powers to cause Kirk to forget about the pain of loving Rayna and watching her sacrifice her life because of it – it’s unclear whether Kirk just forgets the entire incident (which would surely raise too many questions), or just makes Kirk forget the intensity of emotion. It’s also worth noting that never before has love caused Kirk this pain – after all, his first love is the Enterprise, and she comes before any humanoid woman.
  • Rayna might just the first liberated woman on Star Trek in that she gets to declare outright that it’s up to her rather than Flint or Kirk to choose who she loves. Of course, she then dies because she cannot bear to hurt either of them by choosing between them, so there’s still some way to go.
  • Flint was somehow able to purchase the planet he now lives on – from whom? Who owned the planet in order to sell it to him? How can you buy a planet? Is there some kind of galactic estate agent?

Summary – Requiem for Methuselah: Finally, a decent episode.

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